I have just read Richard’s blog post about his experience of the second East-Midlands Road Race League event kindly organised by Beeston CC and thought I would share my own reflections on Rich’s view of the race.
It’s fair to say the day did not start well: despite the race being a decent 72 miles long I had decided to ride the 15 miles out to the start and then back again afterwards so as to build up the mileage in anticipation of some of the bigger races we have coming later in the season. Plus I quite like a long warm up when I can as the increasingly aging engine takes a little longer to get going these days… Anyway 10 minutes into my ride out, I’m crossing Pride Park when I hear that sound which chills any cyclist to the bone, the hiss of punctured tyre. Sh*t. In true Corporal Jones style I tell myself not to panic and just get the tyre changed as quickly as possible. After that it was a question of reining myself in and not go charging off thinking I was late and end up cooking myself before the race had even started.
So after that minor stress I arrived at the HQ with plenty of time and was able to have a relaxed prep. After signing on and collecting my numbers I was able to sit down and have a chat with some of the fellow racers I know, get the numbers pinned on, have a final bite to eat, apply some of the super new Muc-Off embrocation cream to the legs and tighten up the laces on my flashy new Specialized shoes. Ready to go.
As ever during this process Rich was quietly floating around offering whatever assistance or motivational pearls of wisdom he could. Sometimes he almost conceals his own nerves and excitement. Then it’s time to gather for the briefing, line up behind the car for the neutralised roll-out and away we go.
I shan’t provide another blow-by-blow account of the race itself as Rich has already provided his views. As anyone who as ever taken part in a race knows, there is never a definitive account of a race, I am still amazed by what a fluid, organic animal a bike race is, no two people ever experience exactly the same race and for every rider in the race you will get a different version of the same event.
Given that this post is intended to reflect Rich’s one thing I will say is how welcome the people on the sides of the road are. You might not think it, but we do see you and appreciate the support. Even in the final mad-cap dash for the line when it’s head down, Abdoujaparov style, when the eyesight is gradually narrowing as the body goes into oxygen debt, you can still pick out individual voices amongst the general cacophony.
Then it’s all over and once again we can gather as a team at the side of the road and congratulate each other on another great team performance with all of us playing our parts. Once again Rich hovers diligently, offering to collect the disgusting sticky used gel wrappers we have all collected over the course of the race so that he can dispose of them appropriately; he really does get all the best jobs.
Someone once said that cycling is a sport for individuals played by teams. Too often at amateur level the concept of the team gets lost amongst personal ambition. We’ve got a great group this year all riding with real esprit de corps and that has started from the top down with the guys on the other side of the road and behind the scenes: Rich, Andy and Adrian. Bring on the next race!